"Chapter 5 Political Parties"
Chapter 8 Mass Media and Public Opinion 1 Section 1—The Formation of Public Opinion • Objectives: – Examine the term public opinion and understand why it is difficult to define. – Analyze how family and education shape public opinion. – Describe four additional factors that shape public opinion. 2 Section 1—The Formation of Public Opinion • Why It Matters: – You no doubt have opinions on a variety of issues, from school prayer to which political party should be in power. Several factors help shape your opinions. The two most important factors are family and education. 3 Section 1—The Formation of Public Opinion • Political Dictionary: – Public Affairs – Public Opinion – Mass Media – Peer Group – Opinion Leader 4 Section 1—The Formation of Public Opinion • What Is Public Opinion? • The distribution of the population’s beliefs about politics and policy Is very complicated. – Different Publics • Likely voters or all people • Vs. “public affairs” • A loose term—hard to define 5 Section 1—The Formation of Public Opinion • What Is Public Opinion? (cont.) – Definition • Those attitudes held by a significant number of people on matters of government and politics. • Does not need to be written. 6 Section 1—The Formation of Public Opinion • Family and Education – Political “socialization” starts at home. – The Family • A “monopoly” until we are older • Children often take the views of their parents – The Schools • Patriotism • History • Experiences 7 Section 1—The Formation of Public Opinion • Other Factors – Your job and issues there – Mass Media • Television in 98% of homes—many with 2 • Movies, magazines, radio, Internet, etc. – Peer Groups: the friends and colleagues you see daily 8 Section 1—The Formation of Public Opinion • Other Factors (cont.) – Opinion Leaders • The President • Ministers, doctors, lawyers, talk-radio – Historic Events • Great Depression, WWII, 9-11, assassinations, 9 Section 2—Measuring Public Opinion • Objectives: – Describe the challenges involved in measuring public opinion. – Explain why scientific opinion polls are the best measure of public opinion. – Identify five steps in the polling process. – Understand the challenge of evaluating polls. – Recognize the limits on the impact of public opinion in a democracy. 10 Section 2—Measuring Public Opinion • Why It Matters: – Have you ever responded to a poll? Taken a poll yourself? Scientific polls are the most effective means for measuring public opinion. Other measures include election returns, the activities of interest groups, and direct personal contact. 11 Section 2—Measuring Public Opinion • Political Dictionary: – Mandate – Interest Group – Public Opinion Poll – Straw Vote – Sample – Random Sample – Quota Sample 12 Section 2—Measuring Public Opinion • Measuring Public Opinion – Voting, lobbying, books, pamphlets, magazine and newspaper articles, editorial comments, paid advertisements, and letters to the editor. – Elections—NOT mandates • Just “indicators,” not definitive • Electorate is just too complex and divided. • Not everyone votes 13 Section 2—Measuring Public Opinion • Measuring Public Opinion (cont.) – Interest Groups – The Media—mirrors and molders – Personal Contacts 14 Section 2—Measuring Public Opinion • Polls—The Best Measure – Straw Votes—very unreliable – Scientific Polling • Gallup and Roper in the 1930s • Now more than 1,000 organizations • Gallup and Harris are most respected 15 Section 2—Measuring Public Opinion • The Polling Process – Define the Universe – Constructing a Sample • Representative • Randomness—probability sample • 1,500 people are interviewed in most polls • Law of Probability—1,500 + or – 3% – Quota Sample—used to reflect demographics 16 Section 2—Measuring Public Opinion • The Polling Process (cont.) – Preparing Valid Questions • Avoiding emotionally charged words. – Interviewing • Face to face • Telephone/mail – Analyze and Report Findings • Technology can refine the results – “Push” Polling 17 Section 2—Measuring Public Opinion • Evaluating Polls – Intensity—strength of feeling with which a response is held. – Stability—permanence or changeability of the opinion. – Relevance—how important is the opinion to the person who holds it. – Bandwagon Effect—influences the result. 18 Section 2—Measuring Public Opinion • Limits on the Impact of Public Opinion. – They do not decide elections – They do not remove the protections built into our Constitution. 19 Section 3—The Mass Media • Objectives: – Examine the role of the mass media in providing the public with political information. – Explain how the mass media influence politics. – Understand the factors that limit the influence of the media. 20 Section 3—The Mass Media • Why It Matters: – How often do you watch television, read a newspaper or magazine, listen to the radio? While these media provide entertainment, they are also our most important sources of political information. 21 Section 3—The Mass Media • Political Dictionary: – Medium – Public agenda – Sound bite 22 Section 3—The Mass Media • The Role of Mass Media (from “medium”) – Television—98%, fewer bathrooms • 1,400 stations • Major networks plus CNN, PBS, etc. – Newspapers—1,500 – Radio—12,000 stations – Magazines—12,000 23 Section 3—The Mass Media • The Media and Politics – The Public Agenda • Not “what” to think but what to think “about” – Electoral Politics • Drives coverage – Short, interesting • Sound bites 24 Section 3—The Mass Media • Limits on Media Influence – Less than 10% follow news closely – Those who do are often selective – Entertainment shows convey messages – Few public affairs programs – Coverage “skims” news – Becoming informed takes effort 25 Section 3—The Mass Media 26